Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Indian Thought and Western Science in the Nineteenth Century

Indian Thought and Western Science in the Nineteenth Century

Ratings: (0)|Views: 368|Likes:
Published by Derek Parker
Open letter written by Mary Everest Boole, about the role Indian thought played in developing modern mathematical and philosophical logic in Victorian England. Contains significant details about the relationships with other intellectuals of the time not apparent elsewhere
Open letter written by Mary Everest Boole, about the role Indian thought played in developing modern mathematical and philosophical logic in Victorian England. Contains significant details about the relationships with other intellectuals of the time not apparent elsewhere

More info:

Published by: Derek Parker on Aug 09, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





 A Letter to Dr. Bose by Mary Everest BooleThis letter was written in 1901; it was published in The Ceylon National Review in June,1909. In 1911 it was printed as a booklet under the title of "The Psychologic Aspect of  Imperialism," but when Mrs. Boole put it, later on, into its final form she restored theoriginal title.
16 LADBROKE ROAD,LONDON, ENGLAND, 1901.Dear Dr. Bose, Nivedita
conveyed to me your request that I would explain what I meant by speakingof the unfitness of the English people to undertake the
of such a people as theHindus. What I said was that the English suffer from a carefully cultivated ignorance of certain essential elements of psychology, and that European science could never have reachedits present height had it not been fertilised by successive wafts from the psychic know-ledgestored up in the East.It is commonly said that the great modern advance in physical science is entirely a product of Europe and America, It is true that most of the work of observing, collecting, andclassifying phenomena has been done by Europeans and Americans, but the masses of detail brought to light by Western observers are reduced to order by means of what is called thehigher mathematics. Higher mathematics consists mainly of psychologic science evolved inAsia and brought to Europe by individuals who reduced it to a notation which, whilefacilitating its use as an organiser of phenomena, withdrew it from the cognizance of anignorant and meddlesome priesthood. You wish me to explain the statement. If I wereyounger, I should like to make a fresh study of this interesting topic. But, in my seventiethyear, my sight and strength are a little failing me; I can no longer enter on fresh studies. Themost I can do is to write out my reminiscences of the facts and books which led me to formmy opinion.As my letter must therefore take a personal and what may seem an egotistic form, Imust ask you to let me say, at starting, that [948] when I shall speak of my husband's work having been misunderstood, I do not and cannot possibly mean that he was neglected or undervalued. On the contrary, he received recognition, in the shape of medals and honorarydegrees, to an extent which he considered far beyond what he either merited or desired. Heoften spoke warmly to me of the generous assistance given to him in his researches bymathematicians here and abroad; of their overpraise of whatever in his books they were ableto understand; and of the more than cordial welcome accorded to him whenever he visitedany university. He told me that he went very little into university society, because he hadgood reason to know that the cordiality of his admirers would in most cases have beendiminished if they had had any clear idea what his books really were about. As he knew of no
way in which he could make the academic public understand his real meaning without plunging into controversies repugnant to his tastes, he shrank from receiving homage, as itwere, on false pretences.As to my own family, whatever one's opinion may be of the taste displayed by theEnglish in altering the ancient name of the great mountain, there can be no doubt that thechoice of my uncle's name in connection with this queer kind of vandalism was meant as afull recognition of the services rendered by him to engineering science. If, therefore, at your request I tell the people of India some facts which I happen to know in the history of modernEuropean science, I do so not as one appealing to men of another race for recognition denied by her own; but because I venture to hope that for the sake of my uncle and my husband whatI say may at least gain a thoughtful hearing. When you have read what I have to say, I ask nomore; I do not wish to convince anyone against his instincts; judge for yourselves.You know that Professor Be Morgan caused a
Treatise on Maxima and Minima
, byRam Chundra
, to be published in England, in order to prove to English men of science thatthe Hindu mind masters, without the aid of the differential calculus, problems which amongus had hitherto been solved only with the help of the calculus.The bearing of this fact has not, it seems to me, received sufficient attention. If weheard about a foreign tribe that it could see, without telescopes, celestial phenomenadiscovered by us only by the use of telescopes, we should at once ask: "Does this mean[949] that they possess some instrument of equal optical power with the telescope, butdifferently arranged? Or does it mean that they can see, with the naked eye, or by means of some simpler optical assistance, what is invisible to us without a powerful arrangement of lenses?" In the former case we have evidence of a vision equal to our own and of aconstructive ingenuity similar to our own, but which accident has directed rather differently.In the latter case we must conclude that the foreign tribe have an organic power of visionsuch as we have either never developed, or have lost owing to misuse or disuse. Which of these two cases does the Hindu treatment of Maxima and Minima most resemble? Read DeMorgan's Preface: I can only give a few extracts."On examining this work I saw in it, not merely merit worthy of encouragement, but merit of a peculiar kind, the encouragement of which,as it appears to me, was likely to PROMOTE NATIVE EFFORTTOWARDS THE RESTORATION OF THE NATIVE MIND IN INDIA."They" (the English) "forget that at this very moment there still existsamong the higher castes of the country — castes which exercise vastinfluence over the rest — a body of literature and science which might well be the nucleus of a new civilisation, though every trace of Christian andMohammedan civilisation were blotted out of existence."Many friends of education have proposed that Hindoos should be fullyinstructed in English ideas and methods, and made the media through whichthe mass of their countrymen might receive the results in their own
languages. Some trial has been given to this plan, but the results have not been very encouraging in any of the higher branches of knowledge."My conviction is that the Hindoo mind must work out its own problem,and that all we can do is to
 set it to work 
that is, to promote independentspeculation on all subjects."That sound judgment which gives men well to know what is best for them,as well as that faculty of invention which leads to the development of resources and to the increase of wealth and comfort, are both materiallyadvanced by, perhaps cannot rapidly be advanced without, a great taste for  pure speculation among the general mass of the people, down to the lowestof those who can read and write."He also quotes from Sir John Herschel's historical article "Mathematics" in
 Brahma Sidd'hanta
, the work of Brahmagupta, an Indian astronomer of the seventh century, contains a general method for the resolution of indeterminate problems of the second degree; an investigation whichactually baffled the skill of every modern [950] analyst till the time of Lagrange's solution, not excepting the all-inventive Euler himself."The destruction of natural faculty which De Morgan deprecated seems to have beengoing on in other departments besides that of mathematics. A friend of mine who employshimself in founding in Europe little colonies of peasant artists, and who for that purpose hasstudied good specimens of real old Eastern art, was invited to inspect some weaving done inIndia in an institution controlled by Englishmen. "Art?" he said to me, "call that Art? TrueArt always expresses some real feeling, personal or national; that stuff is neither English nor Hindu nor anything else. Some boy from Cambridge or Oxford goes out there and thinks hecan tell the Hindus what they ought to do!"And indeed I fear that the "boy from Cambridge or Oxford," or some other cramming- place here, is the
 fons et origo
of all the mischief. "We must keep a hold on India," say our governing classes, "or else what should we do for careers for our sons?" May the words prove prophetic, though spoken in stupid and cruel ignorance! May England long keep a hold onIndia as a school where "our sons" may learn the secret of true culture! But how can weexpect to retain the loyalty of Hindus, if we trample out their normal development and their self-respect? Someone wrote to me lately that Sister Nivedita cares for India, but not for thiscountry. I replied that Nivedita seems to me to be doing more than any other woman whom Iknow of for the peace and stability of the British Empire. I have gone through all this battle before, on a small scale, and seen the issue. Seventy years ago my father, a parish clergyman,started the (then novel) doctrine that the parish pastor is not a priest, either in religion or inart, but a state-"minister" (i.e., servant), appointed to organise the culture of the parish
inaccordance with the desires of the most serious and wise inhabitants
. The neighbouringclergy were alarmed and angry; they said that my father was encouraging disloyalty to thehierarchy of social rank and to the proper authority of the state clergy. But, notwithstandingtheir disapproval of the methods, they envied the results. There was no parish in the countryround where the inhabitants, even the Nonconformists, were so fond of the parish church; noclergyman who had such power as my father to sway the hearts of the people when any feudneeded to be healed or any wrong to be righted. Therefore I have no fear of normallydeveloped people; but I do dread human beings who have been mechanicalised and distorted.

Activity (3)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
hypotune liked this
1 thousand reads
1 hundred reads

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->